When University of Georgia graduate Stefano Gobbo received his master’s degree last week, he made history, both for UGA and for the University of Padova (UNIPD) in Italy.
Gobbo is the first UNIPD-based graduate of the dual master’s degree program in sustainable agriculture jointly offered by the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and the Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural Resources, Animals and Environment at UNIPD. He completed his coursework at UNIPD and conducted his thesis research at CAES, earning master’s degrees from both universities. A few months ago, Logan Moore, a Tifton, Georgia, native, was the first UGA-based student to complete the program. Moore conducted his research at UNIPD.
The dual master’s degree program between the two universities is the first of its kind for CAES and for UGA. UGA and CAES have long supported international study, but the university didn’t offer a dual master’s degree until this program was established in 2016.
“One of the goals of the dual-degree program is to immerse students in the research of the host university and the culture of the host country. In addition to adjusting to these dramatic changes in their lives and habits, students are required to meet the graduation requirement of both universities and do at least 50 percent more work than students pursuing traditional master’s of science degrees,” said George Vellidis, the CAES professor who helped start the dual degree program at UGA. “The fact that our dual-degree students manage to complete all of this in a period of 24 to 30 months is extremely impressive.”
“Along with Logan Moore, Stefano was a pioneer of the dual-degree program. By being first, Logan and Stefano smoothed out most of the bumps in the road for the students who will follow them,” Vellidis added. “There were many difficulties encountered by these first two students as they tried to navigate the academic requirements of two different highly ranked universities with different rules, regulations and traditions.”
While conducting his research at the UGA Tifton campus, Gobbo studied precision agriculture with CAES crop physiologist John Snider. He used thermal images collected with a prototype thermal camera to help define water stress in cotton and applied that data to schedule irrigation applications.
“It’s a great opportunity because you compare yourself with a different environment and different people. The United States is a really competitive environment, so it’s a really good thing from a professional point of view to learn new things from different people,” Gobbo said.
On the same day that Gobbo graduated in the U.S., UGA-Tifton alum Aaron Bruce graduated from UNIPD in Italy. The second student from UGA to go to Italy as part of the dual-degree program, Bruce completed his research at UNIPD in less than a year. Bruce will receive his UGA degree in May 2019.
There are currently five other dual-degree students who originated from UNIPD conducting their research at UGA. Samuele Lamon is working with CAES plant geneticist Peggy Ozias-Akins and Dario Di Genova is studying with CAES plant pathologist Jonathan Oliver. Both are working on the UGA Tifton campus and are scheduled to graduate in May 2019. Samuele Ceolin is studying with CAES soil physicist David Radcliffe on the UGA Athens campus, Bright Ofori is working with CAES soil microbiologist Mussie Habteselassie on the UGA Griffin campus, and Arianna Toffanin is studying with Vellidis in Tifton. All three students are scheduled to graduate in December 2019.
There are currently two UGA-based students conducting their thesis research at UNIPD — Carson Dann and Brendan Fatzinger, both of whom are researching agricultural sustainability. Two more students from UGA will join them at UNIPD in the spring.
For more information about the program, visit cropsoil.uga.edu/graduate/masters-degree-programs/dual-ms-crop-soil-sciences.html.